EU environmental regulation should stay: EEF

21st September 2016


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  • Mitigation ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Chemicals

Author

Martin Snuff

Manufacturers are concerned about the cost and disruption of repealing and replacing EU environmental regulations once the UK leaves the bloc, according to trade body EEF.

The organisation surveyed its members to identify their priorities for a negotiating position with the EU. The poll found that environmental regulations and directives are already deeply embedded in businesses. Given the sheer-scale of EU-led environmental legislation, full transposition into UK law is the only practical short-term option, EEF said.

Just a quarter of firms responding to its survey did not want the UK to continue complying with EU waste legislation, including the Waste Framework Directive, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and the circular economy package.

A high level of support was expressed for chemicals legislation under the REACH regime, with just 23% wanting it dropped, despite this being considered one of the most burdensome regulations. This is likely to be because REACH is a considerable way through implementation, with UK businesses already taking action on the last registration deadline coming up in June 2018, EEF said.

Even after leaving the EU, UK businesses will still need to adhere to REACH in some capacity in order to export chemicals and other products to other EU member states, EEF noted.

In air quality, the UK has made significant reductions in industrial emissions following collaboration across the bloc under the Industrial Emissions Directive. UK manufacturers have made substantive investments in complying with this. EEF wants manufacturers to remain aligned with EU counterparts in tackling industrial emissions, as if they are not obligated on similar terms, the sizeable investment already made in achieving targets will be undermined, it said.

Claire Jackobsson, head of energy and environment policy at EEF said that nowhere are the dangers of a hasty Brexit more clear than when looking at EU environmental regulations and directives, many of which have supported environmental improvements. She said: ‘A mass repeal would be costly and disruptive, and would seriously undermine investment.’

It is vital that Britain remains forward-thinking and innovative and does not see its environmental ambitions and responsibilities diminished after it leaves the EU, she said.

However, she added that, in the longer-term, there is an opportunity to pull back from EU regulation where it does not work for the UK. ‘This requires careful exploration to ensure there are no unintended consequences and we would want to see manufacturers fully consulted before any decisions are made,’ she said.

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